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Nurses network, learn and lobby for safe-staffing ratios

Nearly 100 PEF nurses participated in a professional development day, May 19, in Albany. They learned about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects insurance, the delivery of care and nurses on the job. The conference included information on nutrition, workplace bullying, and an inspirational talk on how to lobby lawmakers by PEF President Susan M. Kent.

On May 20, the PEF nurses were joined by their union brothers and sisters from 1199 SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association, New York State United Teachers and Communication Workers of America. They met with more than a dozen state Senators and Assembly Members and urged them to pass the bill that would require health care facilities to have the proper amount of staff to deliver quality care.

At a luncheon held at the Convention Center, state Sen. George Maziarz and Assembly Member Aileen Gunther told the 600 nurses in attendance how their tenacity and passion helped pass the Safe-Patient Handling Bill, and that their voices need to be heard to pass the safe-staffing legislation.

Along with other union leaders, Kent spoke and raised the roof with cheers and applause as she inspired and challenged the nurses to take action.

“No more excuses. Get it done!” Kent shouted. “It’s an election year, so you are going to have a lot of people who will want your attention to make sure they get re-elected, including the governor of this state. Make sure they know your vote counts this year, and make sure when you are talking to them they get that message.

“Mandatory overtime is still happening because we don’t have in place the right and logical thing to do and that is safe staffing in the nursing profession. Do not be afraid or be intimidated. You are not just speaking for yourself, but for thousands of patients. People will always need health care and you will always provide it. Speak out today and every day,” Kent said.